Trump Administration Weighs Plan To Drug Test Food Stamp Recipients

The president is reportedly planning to impose draconian work requirements and conduct costly drug tests on some of food stamp recipients.

Donald Trump

Couple of months ago, the Trump administration released its proposal for the fiscal year 2019 budget and it had little to cheer up the low-income Americans.

The proposal made it pretty clear that President Donald Trump and his advocates aim to radically restructure how benefits are delivered to needy citizens. Along with gutting funding for food stamps, the administration also proposed to cut eligibility for at least 4 million people. 

Months later, Trump has apparently acted upon his widely-resented proposal, which will make it harder for people living in poverty to access government assistance programs, food stamps, and public housing subsidies.

The Trump administration is considering a plan that would make it mandatory for states to conduct a drug tests on some of the recipients of food stamp programs, the Associated Press reported.

According to an anonymous source, the plan under review would primarily target potential beneficiaries who are robust, applying for some specialized jobs and are independent.

The official said roughly 5 percent of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) could be affected.

Moreover, Trump has also reportedly signed an executive order directing federal agencies to introduce stringent work requirements for low-income individuals. It includes reviewing “all policies related to current work requirements as well as exemptions and waivers and report back to the White House with recommendations within 90 days,” according to the reports.

According to the administration, the POTUS’ actions are consistent with his efforts to find out what is making the country lag behind. The plan has been marked as a welfare program called “Reducing Poverty in America.” 

Regardless of what Trump and his advocates claim, it is hard to believe this program commenced out of compassion.

Considering the president’s history, such measures seem consistent with policies that exacerbated the situation for low-income Americans. For instance, cutting heat and energy subsidies or imposing tariffs that will raise prices on affordable housing, food, and common household goods are few of many policies that jeopardize chances of stable livelihood for poor citizens.

Valerie Wilson, director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy at the Economic Policy Institute, pointed out the flaws with the president’s idea of reducing poverty.  “Work requirements are inconsistent with the realities of poverty in America and are unlikely to provide any resolution,” she said. “The truth is that a majority of poor people who can work, do work — more than 60 percent.”

Wilson further elaborated on the ineffectiveness of this plan by pointing out that low-wage workers are working overtime but their jobs aren’t rewarding enough. Instead of forcing work requirements on people, the better solution would be to work on organizations to pay their employees sufficiently.

Such proposals go to show conservatives are meddling in federal programs concerning the poor, unemployed or uninsured. As under the current law, states aren’t allowed to implement their own conditions on deciding who is eligible to receive food assistance.

Moreover, the drug testing proposal is consistent with the GOP governors’ idea of running a state, as they argue greater state control reduces dependency and saves money.

However, the Trump administration, which has for the longest time sought ways to tie drug tests with safety net programs, have clearly failed to take into account the costs associated with their proposed tests.

In the past, conservative policymakers have relentlessly tried to tie the drug testing with food stamps.

For instance, in 2015, Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sued the United States Department of Agriculture for resisting the drug tests on adults applying for food stamps, but to avail. The federal judge tossed the suit and the former USDA Food and Nutrition Service Undersecretary Kevin Concannon debunked it for being “costly and cumbersome.”

People are baffled by the administration’s proposal to spend on drug tests, costs of which are likely to surpass the cost of the food stamp.





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